Easter Garden of Delight – Quail Eggs & Beets 3 ways

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Firstly, happy Easter to you all – another excellent excuse to celebrate life, fertility, fresh dawns and bountiful abundance!

As I strolled through the sunshine-soaked stalls of the Darlinghurst farmers market this morning, I looked for what could make the perfect and playful Easter dish, so I could then spend my entire afternoon making art in the kitchen!

Beets, quail eggs, radishes, dill, done.

I had so much fun playing with the ingredients and styling myself a precious garden of edible earthly delights, with mini easter eggs nestled throughout. I’ve never done this type of scattered-garden food styling, but scrolling through endless pages of pinterest’s collection of the hottest salads of 2014 finally got to me. And what a gorgeous way to display a bunch of easter treats, you could do it with so many different ingredients for your easter gathering – your dips and salads all in one, serve with some toasted bruschetta and pop it on your best wooden chopping board – and bam!

I wanted to use the entire beets, so I did beets 3-ways, which includes pickling the stems, roasting some for a delectable beet dip and lightly poaching the rest for slivers of freshness (and of course saving the greens for a later salad). So this recipe has quite a few sub-recipes within it…

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YOU WILL NEED:

For the avocado horseradish cream:

  • 1 Avocado good and ripe to achieve perfect texture
  • Zest & juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1-2 tbsp grated horseradish to taste
  • A splash of cream (optional) or smaller splash of water, to achieve consistency
  • Salt to taste

For beet puree:

  • 2 beets, cut into 2 cm thick wedges
  • 1 bulb of garlic, unpeeled, but with the top chopped off, so just the tip of each clove is exposed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for roasting
  • Zest of the other half of lime
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Small handful of dill
  • 1/4 cup of feta or goats cheese

For the pickled beet stems:

  • Stems from your bunch of beets, chopped to the height of the jar you will use
  • 1 tsp Fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Mason jar or similar for your beet pickles
  • Hefty pinch of salt
  • 1/2 a cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water

The rest:

  • 1 bunch of radishes
  • 1 beet
  • 1 dozen quail eggs
  • Caperberries / Capers
  • Dill for garnish
  • Paprika for garnish
  • Some of the smaller beet leaves for garnish

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For the beet puree (beet dip, really): To begin, preheat your oven to 180 C / 350 F. Pour olive oil into the top of your garlic bulb until it overflows into your baking tray. Oil up the beets, then season with salt and pepper and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the beets are soft and getting caramely on the outside. Place beets into a food processor along with about half of the roast garlic cloves, plus one fresh clove, and the rest of the ingredients. Whizz it into sweet oblivion.

For the pickled beet stems: Start by sterilizing your jars in boiling water. Preferably in a cast iron skillet, toast your coriander and dill seeds for a couple minutes to start bringing out the aromas, then pop them in your newly sterilized jar. Lightly steam stems for about 2 minutes, then place directly in the jar and pack it tight. In a saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil, ensuring all sugar is dissolved then remove from heat. Pack your stems into the jar, and pack’em tight. Then pour your pickling liquid in, almost up to the top, leaving about 1 cm. Wipe the rim and the jar’s lid, then screw on the lid and store in your fridge – they should last about a month in there, and will be ready in about a week. *** For this recipe obviously you want to use some of the beet stems right away, so I took a few out before placing in the jar, and put them in the pickling mix while i was boiling it for a quick cheat : )

For the avocado horseradish cream: Place all ingredients in a food processor and… process. That really didn’t need it’s own heading, but alas, here we are… Next!

For the rest of the prep and assembly: Peel & boil the extra beet for about 5 minutes, just enough to soften it a touch. Slice very thinly into rounds and moons (I would recommend using a mandolin, unless you have a sharp knife and even sharper slicing skills). Boil your quail eggs for precisely 2 minutes and 15 seconds, then immediately submerge in an ice bath. Peel them, halving some. Halve some of the capers, and slice all your radishes into fine rounds and maybe moons if you use larger radishes. Carefully peel the rest of the roasted garlic to add to the garden.

I started by thickly smearing the beet puree and avo-horse-cream parallel in a nicely tapered shape on my favorite chopping board. This provides the bed for propping up all of your other garnishings so make sure it’s thick. Then it is all up to your creative desire, propping mini dill trees behind your slanted beet stem-logs, and hiding your mini easter eggs behind caperberry thickets and curling beet wafers!

I served this with some thin bruschetta on the side, so you could graze from the garden, and then spread the garden’s bed onto crunchy bread. YUM!

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